This is a story I heard over fifty years ago: There was once a famous Anglican missionary who had a reputation for being a hell-fire preacher. He was very effective in describing judgment. Upon his return to England from missionary work, his bishop assigned him to preach in a village church. When he heard who was coming to preach, the vicar of the church became very anxious for his flock. He was concerned what the missionary would preach and what the effect would be on his congregation.
The vicar met the missionary at the train. After some small talk, the vicar asked him what his text would be on Sunday. The missionary replied he had not yet decided, and did the pastor have any suggestions?
The pastor replied, “We here in civilized England are not big on judgment. Any message on the love of God would be fine.”
The missionary answered, “Wonderful. How about John 3:16, ‘For God so loved the world’?”
The pastor, relieved, said “That will be just fine.”
On Sunday morning in the village church, the missionary opened his Bible to John 3 and began to read. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not . . .”
He stopped and started over. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not . . .”
He stopped again, turned to the vicar and said, “What shall I do now, vicar?”
The love of God is the salvation from death and from the fear of death. The only reason God expressed His love to man in the death of His Son was that man was under judgment because of his sin. Judgment must be preached first, or the love of God makes no sense.
“Since the children have flesh and blood, He too shared in their humanity so that by His death He might destroy Him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil—and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death” (Heb. 2:14–15).
“This is how God showed His love among us: He sent His one and only Son into the world that we might live through Him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins” (1 Jn. 4:9–10).
People surrender or flee when they are terrified. Terror is an effective weapon.
“It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Heb. 10:31).
There are far, far too many people going to hell unafraidbecause they have not been scared. People must be informed of the sure judgment of God. If they are afraid, they might be open to the salvation available in the love of God for sinners.
“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love” (1 Jn. 4:18).
*Excerpted from Weapons & Tactics. To purchase, visit ccmbooks.org/bookstore.